Friday, April 4, 2014

Object of the Day: A Victorian Trade Card with Mr. Punch

This handsome trade card was found awhile ago at a local antique store. My mother, father, Bertie and I (well, not so much Bertie—he just sort of watched) sorted through several bins of antique and vintage scraps and cards in search of interesting finds, and this one popped up.  

On the reverse, it’s an advertisement for a hotel in Ohio.  The ad is actually very hard to see since it’s been damaged after having been glued into a scrapbook a century ago and then, recently ripped out of said scrap book by the seller.  I must confess that I have mixed feelings about this.  I, personally, would not have had the heart to tear apart  a Victorian scrapbook.  However, I understand why it was done—so that the individual parts could be sold to people like me who were in the market for specific things.  

You can see why I wanted this trade card.  There’s Mr. Punch.  He’s seated on the lap of a young girl who seems quite taken with him.  He’s not in his usual red ensemble, but, instead wears a handsome striped cap and suit of cerulean.

This image—not only the pose, but the costume of the girl—reminds me of apair of photographs in the V&A—“Joy and Grief” which shows a similar scene. Which came first—who knows?  They’re very close in age, and pinning a exact year on the card is impossible since the reverse is unreadable.  

The Victoria & Albert Museum

Nevertheless, just the sight of it pleases me.  Look at Punch’s face.  He looks so kind, and not at all as if he’s thinking about hitting that girl with a stick.  No, no, there’s not a trace of plotting in his expression at all.  

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